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Experts say that a down economy is the best time to invest in marketing. At the same time you may be looking at your budget and wondering where the additional money will come to increase your marketing spend and what investments will drive the most revenue and profit for your company. Good news, all you need to know is a little about Web 2.0.

Marketing has grown beyond television, billboards and print. New Web applications are introduced almost daily. Each application allows your customers to interface with you and your business in a less-expensive, more productive manner.

Here are some quick ways to work Web 2.0 into your marketing plan:

Review your Web site
Look to increase ways for your customers to talk with you. Offer live chat options increasing your technical support or support desk offerings. ZaZa Chat and Volusion both offer easy to use interfaces for your customers and your business. Allowing your customers to talk with your representative in both the consideration and purchasing stages can extend the reach of your staff and offer the availability your customer is seeking. If you are ready to expand your service offerings, this is a great option for technical or help desk support, allowing you to offer more with less investment.

Measure Marketing Success
If you have a Web site, you must measure your site’s effectiveness and how your customers interact with you. If not, you’re missing out on importance of Web marketing. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft offer business solutions to increase your SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing). Online marketing allows for greater measurability of your campaigns and promotions. Investing in a company that focuses on SEO and SEM can increase your marketing campaigns and drive both customer retention and incremental new business.

Start Talking More
There’s no end to the number of communication applications. Social networks like Facebook are adding more than 100,000 new users a week. Your customers are already there. Not sure how to use Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? Consult with a social media marketing specialist. A good writer can assist you with your profiles, blogs and community interactions. It’s worth the expense to have a dedicated resource to keeping your information updated as the online marketing can go stale in a week.

Invest in Databases
I love Excel spreadsheets, but they cannot do what today’s customer relation management (CRM) systems can do. You can track everything about your customer from conversations to purchases to campaign responses. It’s a fact worth repeating: it costs five times more to get a new customer than it does to grow business with your existing customers. Keeping your customer information up to date will improve your customer satisfaction rates and prevent costly sales errors. Are you growing your services business? CRM databases are a must. Allowing your staff from marketing, sales and operations to view the activities, purchasing habits and renewal dates is crucial to growing revenues and profits.

Your customers are using the Web to evaluate your products and services with your competitors. Making the most of today’s Web applications will allow your business to grow with minimal marketing expense, resources and time.

Kathleen Martin is special projects coordinator at Channel Insider and CEO of RocketComm, a channel marketing and communications firm.